On the GQ/Pitchfork Situation

If you haven’t heard, Condé Nast decided that in order to protect the band of Pitchfork (paraphrasing them), it has been folded into the organization of GQ. Shouldn’t someone actually look into what they own before making such decisions?

Well, apparently someone doesn’t understand what brand actually is. Companies can own brand, but they don’t really control them. Brands are completely at the mercy of the public at large and how that public feels about them. Bud Light wasn’t expecting an extremely stupid backlash when they gave a single can of beer to Dylan Mulvaney, but that is what they got. You can try to build a brand, but the audience is who control it.

I have never read GQ, but it seems like a publication for assholes. It’s a publication for people, who want to seem rich and famous and are thus reading about wealth and fame. It seems like the kind of magazine that appeals to men, who feel they need an expensive watch for every occasion (plagiaring myself there). It seems like they want to be exclusive.

I have read a lot of Pitchfork over the years. They used to be a blog aimed at young men, who wanted to feel good about their taste in music, but here’s a story: Back in 2002, someone at Pitchfork had the “funny” idea that they should joke about having been bought by a corporation and have a review of Kylie Minogue’s Fever up (as a sort of indication for a new corporate direction) for April Fools. They didn’t really do pop back then, so that would be very not on brand for them. The “funny” part was that they asked a guy, who had by that time written mostly about jazz and Japanese experimental music for them. Turns out, that guy, Dominique Leone, didn’t actually mind pop either. He kind of liked the album and gave it a pretty good score at 7.6. Eventually, that joke turned into reality in both sense. Condé Nast bought the site in 2015, but way before that, pop became a big deal on the site.

The site has become something very different. Now it’s no longer the kind of website that laughs at certain genres of music. Your taste is valid. Sure, certain albums might be bad, but now they will cover Kylie and Taylor Swift and rap and whatever from a sincere point of view. That’s the kind of site, where Ragana, an anarcho-feminist queer sludge metal duo, can get the same level of attention as Madonna. That’s the kind of site, where music from across the world is not a novelty, but something to fun to explore. It’s the kind of site, which will have best of lists for girl bands as well as industrial and movie soundtracks and none of these are looked down upon. It’s the kind of site that saw the cultural importance of TikTok early. It’s all about music being universal and making it accessible. It’s all about inclusivity.

… and now the two are supposed to become one organization, because Pitchfork is a music site and GQ does music as well. What the fuck? Should Republicans and Black Panthers join forces, because they are both kind of about politics? They are trying to push a cube through a round hole. They are looking at apples and oranges and just assuming that they are the same thing.

These two publications are fundamentally different. They are, at their very core, about something very different. GQ has no interest in finding new interesting artists. They just want to use the celebrity of various artists for their own benefit. Pitchfork wants to find those next big artists or just interesting artists, even if they never become big.

Personally, I have found so many great artists through Pitchfork and while we don’t really know the future of that site yet, we do know that they lost about half of their staff, including, apparently, all senior people. Are they really going to be able to maintain that whole thing if it’s been run by people from GQ who have completely different interests? All of this feels like another aspect of the enshittification of the Internet. Everything what was beautiful about it is becoming useless, because there is a lack of longterm thinking.

So, fuck Condé Nast, fuck GQ, fuck Anna Wintour. There are other sites. There are other ways of finding new music. Pitchfork did for me what a good service should do: it took away some of the friction from the process. I don’t have endless amount of time to scour all the new releases, neither do I want to. They had professionals doing that for me, for us.

Here’s a short list of artists I’ve found and learned to love through Pitchfork off the top of my head and (mostly) through Last.fm: The Knife and Fever Ray, the aforementioned Ragana, Beach House, Kendrick Lamar, M83, Chelsea Wolfe, yeule, Chromatics, Angel Olsen, Marissa Nadler, Lykke Li, FKA twigs, Zola Jesus, Bat for Lashes, Wire, LCD Soundsystem, The Mountain Goats, Panda Bear (for whom I have much more appreciation for as a solo artist than as part of Animal Collective), Broken Social Scene, Burial, HEALTH, Brainiac, Mitski, Los Campesinos!, Weyes Blood, Lana Del Ray, Boards of Canada, Avalances, Charlie XCX, Vampire Weekend, DJ Shadow, Lingua Ignota, Sleigh Bells, Future Islands, Oneothrix Point Never, Liars, Wilco, Run the Jewels (as well as Killer Mike, El-P and the many other project El-P has been part of as a member or a producer), DJ Koze, Kacey Musgraves, Deerhunter, Fleet Foxes, 100 gecs, Porridge Radio, Wet Leg, Built to Spill, Bon Iver, The Feelies, Lucinda Williams, Pissed Jeans, The Walkmen, The Streets, U.S. Girls, Lil Peep, Twin Shadow, Janelle Monae, Pefume Genius, Bloc Party, Future of the Left and Mclusky, Death Grips, Titus Andronicus, Helado Negro, Mount Eerie, Anna Calvi, St. Vincent, Songs: Ohia, Sharon Van Etten, Godflesh, Chairlift and Carolina Polachek, Carla Morrison, CHVRCHES, Fucked Up, Jens Lekman, Protomartyr, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hot Chip, Big Thief, Broadcast, Lightning Bolt, Julie Byrne, Fuck Buttons and Blanck Mass, Why?, John Maus, Be Your Own Pet, Colin Stetson, King Woman, The Shins, The Fall, Jessie Ware, Salem, Beirut, Galaxie 500, Girls, Jenny Hval, Snail Mail, Arthur Russell, Makthaverskan, No Age, Boy Harsher, Dan Deacon, ANOHNI and their previous incarnations, Four Tet, Pharmakon, Lower Dens, ROSALÍA, Julianna Barwick, Wolf Parade, Olivia Rodrigo, Yves Tumor, The Hold Steady, Purple Mountains and Silver Jews, Art Brut, Arca, Flying Lotus, Franz Ferdinand, Scott Walker, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Car Seat Headrest, Jazmine Sullivan, Frightened Rabbit, The Magnetic Fields, Soccer Mommy, Deafheaven, Boredoms, Sunn O))), Boris, The Clientele, JK Flesh, HAIM, The Pop Group, ESG, Waxahatchee, Nilüfer Yanya, Dry Cleaning, Jay Reatard, Sophie, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Unwound, This Heat, Prefuse 73, The Haxan Cloak, Girlpool… and probably many I’m forgetting at this moment.

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